Recording Browser Audio on Linux with ffmpeg

Recording audio from your browser or other applications on Linux can be efficiently done using the command-line tool ‘ffmpeg’. This guide specifically caters to Debian Linux users with KDE Plasma, focusing on capturing audio directly from the system’s output. Whether it’s for recording streaming audio, webinars, or other digital content, this tutorial will guide you through the necessary steps.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • How to install ffmpeg and set it up for audio recording
  • Identifying and using the default audio sink for recording
  • Practical examples of recording system audio, including browser output
Recording Browser Audio on Linux with ffmpeg
Recording Browser Audio on Linux with ffmpeg

Step-by-Step Guide to Recording Audio

Follow these steps to set up and use ffmpeg for capturing audio playing on your system.

  1. Installing ffmpeg
    $ sudo apt-get update
    $ sudo apt-get install ffmpeg

    Begin by installing ffmpeg, a versatile tool for audio and video processing, using the commands above.

  2. Determining the Default Audio Sink
    $ pactl get-default-sink

    Use this command to find out the default audio sink (output device) of your system. Next identify a source:


    Look for lines ending with monitor. Alternatively, use the below command which combines all the previous steps.

    $ pactl list sinks | grep $(pactl get-default-sink).monitor | cut -d : -f 2

    This command helps you find the monitor source associated with the default sink. It is this monitor source that you’ll use for recording.

  3. Recording with ffmpeg
    $ ffmpeg -f pulse -i <monitor_source_name> output.wav

    Replace <monitor_source_name> with the name of the monitor source you identified in the previous step. Start playing the audio in any application, like a browser, and run this command to record it. After recording, use the command Ctrl+C in the terminal to stop ffmpeg.

  4. Testing the Recording
    Check the ‘output.wav’ file in your current directory to ensure the audio has been recorded successfully.


This tutorial provided a comprehensive guide to recording audio from any application, including browsers, on Debian Linux using ffmpeg. By following these steps, you can capture high-quality audio directly from your system’s output. Always remember to adhere to copyright and privacy laws when recording audio content.

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